27 November 2016

"And the walls came tumbling down"

Another major genealogy brick wall has tumbled to the ground. I have managed to locate a Dutch birth record for my 2nd great grandfather, Evert Huigen! We have been working on finding this info for decades. Suddenly it's like I poked a hole in the dyke and the water came rushing in! OK, bad analogy, but you understand what I mean.

It began with an oft repeated search on Ancestry.com finally turning up a useful link to what must be a new record in the Dutch genealogy website, Wie Was Wie. The record was a birth record for an Everardus Huigen born 7 Dec 1827 to Evert Huigens and Evardina Sloot in Didam, Gelderland, Netherlands. The birth date was a day off from the date we calculated based on the info from his broken tombstone (for more details, see here) and the name of his father matched one of the names he used in America. I was pretty sure this was my 2nd great grandfather, but I still had lingering doubts about whether Everardus was really Evert.

Later that night, lying in bed, it hit me--the  "-us" at the end of his name was the Latin nominative ending used for baptisms. His first name was really "Everard" which matched the German version "Eberhard" that was on his tombstone! Everything fell into place. I got up and right back on Ancestry and WieWasWie and was up until 2:30 in the morning tearing down as much of the brick wall as I could.

One of the first finds was a birth record for his father, who was also listed as "Everardus" in his birth record, but went by "Evert." I'm guessing "Evert" is a nickname for "Everard" and I'm working verifying that.

In addition to Everard's birth record, I found birth records for his parents, Everard "Evert" Huigen and Everdina Sloot, and a variety of birth, death and marriage records for them and their other children: sons Herman, Joann (Johann), Jacob, the twins Gerard and Bernard and daughters Gerarda and Elisabeth. My great grandfather, John Huigens, was named for his uncle, Joann (That's Johann, not Jo Ann). His brother, Bernard Haugens, was named for another uncle. Herman and Jacob may be buried in a Catholic cemetery in Damiansville, Clinton Co., IL. It's possible my ancestor was not the only one to make his way to America.

I was able to go back another generation and find info on all four of Everard's grandparents: Herman Huigen and Agatha van den Berg and Johann Sloot and Gerharda Koning. I even found info on Agatha's parents: Peter van den Berg and Johanna Hatting.

Here is what I have so far in taking this branch back:

1. Everard "Evert" HUIGEN, Jr.(b. 7 Dec 1827 in Didam, Gelderland, Netherlands; d. 27 Feb 1864 in Marshall Co., IL)
2. Everard "Evert" HUIGEN, Sr. (b. 31 Mar 1788 in Groessen, Gelderland, Netherlands; d. 5 Mar 1832 in Didam, Gelderland, Netherlands)
3. Everdina SLOOT (b. 25 Apr 1789 in Didam, Gelderland Netherlands; d. Unknown)
4. Herman HUIGEN (b. 3 Mar 1730 in Leiden, Zuid-Holland, Netherlands; d. 27 Mar 1805 in Duiven, Gelderland, Netherlands)
5. Agatha VAN DEN BERG (b. about 1740 in Amersfoort, Utrecht, Netherlands; d 5 Jan 1823 in Duiven, Gelderland, Netherlands)
6. Johann SLOOT (b. Unknown; d. 24 Feb 1810 in Didam, Gelderland, Netherlands)
7. Gerharda KONING (b. Unknown; d. 15 May 1808 in Didam, Gelderland, Netherlands)
8. Unknown HUIGENS
9. Unknown
10. Peter VAN DEN BERG (b. Unknown; d. 1 Apr 1747 in Hoogland, Utrecht, Netherlands)
11. Johanna HATTING (b. Unknown; d. Unknown)
12.Unknown SLOOT
13. Unknown
14. Unknown KONING
15. Unknown

You can understand why I was up until 2:30 in the morning tracking all of this down and doing my genealogy happy dance. I also found records for several more children of Herman and Agatha. Evert Sr. and Herman Huigen gave their occupation as "day laborer." We do not come from the upper class. Not a surprise.

Next steps are to have my daughter's Dutch friend, Anne, help translate the wording on the civil birth, marriage and death records and the church records for baptisms, marriages and funerals. I still need to verify that "Evert" is a nickname for "Everard." I plan on tracing all of the branches of the various families down to find some living relatives. I hope I can find a living male Huigen or Huigens who will take a Y-DNA test to lay to rest all doubts that we've finally found our Dutch family.

29 August 2016

Mystery Solved: Farm Located

I have finally been able to locate the farm in Sheridan County, Nebraska that my dad grew up on. Here is how I managed to find it.

I had two pieces of information from my mother to go on:
  1. Logan C. Musser owned it--my grandfather just leased it 
  2. It was northwest of Rushville, within walking distance 
Yesterday I learned that World War 2 "Old Man's Draft" registration cards from April, 1942 had two sides. The indexed images of the front side that are available on ancestry.com, I knew about. I did not know that if you click through to the next image, you can see the back side of the card, which contains height, weight, eye color, hair color and a few more pieces of information. You can read more about that draft here and here. I immediately went online to check out the second image for my male relatives in that age range. From my grandfather, Joseph Andrew Huigens' card, I learned that he had hazel eyes like mine.

But what really caught my eye, and what I had failed to notice before, was that he listed his address on the front of the card as "section 22-32-44." That was exciting because it gave me what I hoped were the section, township and range in which the farm was located.

It took me a while to track down a set of online historic plat maps for Nebraska Sheridan County, but I finally located a set from 1914 in an ancestry.com database: Indexed County Land Ownership Maps, 1860-1918. Townships in some western Nebraska counties were not named but use a number instead. I was able to find the image for Township 32 N in Range 44 W.

Section 22 is listed as being owned by M. P. Musser and not Logan C. Musser, but I guessed they were related and ownership had changed between 1914 and 1926. It was also just north of Rushville and very much within walking distance of the town.

Further research in the book Recollections of Sheridan County Nebraska (Sheridan County Historical Society (Neb.). 1976. [Place of publication not identified]: Printed by Iron Man Industries.) turned up the fact that banker M. P. Musser died in 1914, the year of the plat map and his son was Logan C. Musser. So Logan had indeed inherited the land after his father died and owned it when my grandfather arrived in 1926.

Here is what Section 22 looks like on Google Maps today.

I still need to discover why my father moved the family west in 1926 and when they left the farm and moved into Rushville. I'm also intrigued by the fairgrounds shown in section 22 in 1914. My dad never mentioned any fairgrounds and the Sheridan County Fair takes place in Gordon. I'm guessing they moved the fair long before my grandfather came and leased the land. I'll need to contact the Sheridan County Historical Society about that.